Finding joy in Mothering… I’ve heard the expression many times before. It’s an admirable goal, I think. Mothering is full of joyful moments, full of fulfillment, full of tenderness and love. There are hard moments, yes. But the joy is there. We just have to find it.
Ha. Have you ever thought about the implications of that word? If something must be found, that means it’s hidden, right? It isn’t sitting right on the surface for all the world to see. It isn’t out in the open, exposed, easy to acquire. The word find implies a little bit more challenge than that, doesn’t it?
Could there be a more fitting word? Sometimes, I’m not so sure I can FIND the joy in and amidst the chaos. Surely there is no joy hidden under couch cushions covered with goldfish crumbs or behind toilets that always smell like pee. Is there really joy to be found in piles of laundry that are taller than me (NOT an exaggeration) or in muddy dog footprints, or in sticky messes or crusty counters or the sanity sucking volume that accompanies a pack of five children everywhere they go? Is there joy when you never really get enough sleep and you never really ever have time to yourself and you just can’t seem to manage one more thing and yet, there always IS one more thing?
You know, I think where a lot of us go wrong is that we think finding joy in mothering means getting through the mothering so we can find joy on our own. Does that make sense? We focus only on what we want to do with our time when we aren’t with our children. We live for nap time. We count down the hours until bedtime so we can finally have a moment’s peace. I get that. Sometimes I hate to go to sleep at night because it means we’ll all wake up again the next morning, and when they’re awake, they’re just so loud!
But that isn’t joy. Not in the truest sense.
Last night, my baby said Mama for the first time.
My son figured out fractions. My daughter loaded the dishwasher all by herself. My boys lay in bed far past their bedtime talking, relating, laughing. My 3 year old said a prayer all by himself. One child helped another with genuine, unsolicited kindness.
I found joy in those moments.
Joy is knowing that these little people who make us crazy will grow up and be our finest friends. Joy is knowing that inside those tiny faces are spirits – spirits just like ours, only younger. (If you look in their eyes, I mean really look, you can see it.) Joy is knowing the sweetness of ultimate acceptance and unfailing forgiveness that only a family can give.
Today, I hope you’ll stop trying to catch up. (Because really, why catch up? You have to do it all again tomorrow anyway.) I hope you’ll stop trying to do more or clean more or finish just one more thing. I hope you’ll slow down, look under, over and everywhere to find a little bit of true mothering JOY.